KIDTUBE: A UX Case Study

untitled-1Children are given access to so much information before they’ve had time to develop healthy viewing habits. This project was a week long design sprint aimed at understanding the relationships between guardian, child, and internet content and develop tools to help guardians guide the development of their child’s internet skills.

Overview: I don’t have kids. My wife and I are excited to have kids, but aren’t quite there yet. We’ve given a lot of thought about how we want to raise our kids, but I hear that no parenting plan survives first contact with an infant. Likewise, no UX design survives first contact with the User.

My first goal was to get as much data from actual people with children to see what the experience was like, and how a simple app might be able to help them in their day to day life.

User Research: Dealing with a parental control app has the unique difficulty of having two dramatically different users, adults and children. There are many relationships between guardians and children, and a lot of the data that made sense for the parent of a 2 year old didn’t quite fit for the aunt of an 8 year old.

The initial line of questioning really centered around the usage of technology, but I quickly found that it was more useful to pivot to questions that centered around the core of the guardian-child relationship.


ab-01Insights: Looking at all the data, there were some stand out elements that felt like they were pointing me in the right direction.

“It’s like a snooze button on my kid. It’s exactly like that.”

“I’m not big on censorship, but . . .”

“I just want to make him laugh”

These were some stand out quotes from folks, but it was important to identify trends among the different guardians. An affinity board felt like the right tool to array the information I had gathered. From this information I made four major insights that would be the pillars of the project.

  • Guardians have limited time and effort to spend preparing content for their children.
  • Quality of content is important, but often judged against numerous metrics
  • Guardians want a positive environment for everyone involved
  • Censorship means different things to different people.

When combined, these statements gave me a clear understanding of the direction this app needed to go in to address a real need my users were encountering

An engaged guardian needs smart online video controls because they want their child to have healthy viewing experiences but they have limited time.


User Flow: With clear direction in mind I built out a flow of how a user would approach this app, and what they would want to do at every step of the way. This first iteration took a very macro approach and approached different functionality as it became apparent at each stage.

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img_9831I built out a small subset of the prototype, and after one user test realized that the scope of this user flow far exceeded the resources of a single week long design sprint. Test early and test often (otherwise you’ll waste a lot of time on a cool paper prototype that you really like and that no one will ever see because it was a flawed concept and your user couldn’t get past the loading screen).


Scope: After a good douse of reality, I was ready to pare back the app significantly. Better to do one thing well, than four things poorly. The overall goal of the app is to improve internet viewing habits in children, which is a BIG task, so I need to break that task up into smaller pieces and choose one to pursue.

  • Session Time Limits
  • Child Analytic Data
  • User Accounts
  • Youtube Integration
  • Behavioral Incentive Systems
  • Video Playlist Management

With this new task in mind, I create a much more targeted user flow, to act as a guide for the next iteration of the prototype.

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Features: Looking at the problem at hand, and the scope of the project there were a few key features that were important

Dual Interface

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diagrams-01Since KID-TUBE has two user groups, guardians and children, it was important to have two interfaces. Important features arose during testing:

  • Color Coded / Identifiable at a Glance
  • Easy to switch between
  • Different search functionality
  • Different video options

Suggestions

Matching user expectation, KID-TUBE would start “empty” without any videos accessible through the child interface.

While the number of added videos is below a threshold, KID-TUBE will offer a tutorial and KID CHANNEL CORE which will instantaneously populate the app with a baseline level of content.

Video Management

The app drives towards helping guardians and children to an acceptable video as soon as possible.

Guardians search a much larger set of data, and have more sophisticated options as a result.

Immediate options are kept as simple as possible at each stage of the process.

Playlists

Adding videos one by one, is a tedious proposition for guardians, so KID-TUBE would regularly offer bundles of content that guardians could scan before adding all the videos with a single click.

Likewise, playlists allow children to set a group of similar videos to play without requiring additional input for long instances of flow.

Playlists then allow for management of videos in the library.


Conclusion: This was a great opportunity to expand my skill base, but it was also a strong reminder that what I imagine to be true and what my users believe to be true are two wildly different things. KID-TUBE does some pretty standard content management, but there is a lot it could do to give guardians more nuanced control over both the content their child consumes and their growth towards developing healthy online viewing habits.

Next Steps: With something as important and personal as parenting techniques, I quickly realized that if this app is going to reach its full potential, I’m going to need to spend a lot more time on User research to ensure that I’m fulfilling a need in a way that fits nicely into a variety of parenting plans. When you’re dealing with children, it’s important that your app be effective and free of negative consequences.

While User research can (and should) steer the next iterations of this design, I do have some directions that I am excited to try out. Streamlining the design is certainly the first step. Once I’ve pared the app to the minimum viable product, I should be able to look at what features could enrich and support the core experience.

  • Additional Controls (Session Time, Child Analytics)
  • User Accounts
  • Youtube Integration
  • Behavioral Incentive Systems

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